Man convicted in assault at Big Lots store - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man convicted in assault at Big Lots store

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man who attacked a woman in a toilet stall at a Big Lots store last year while wearing a child's pink Barbie costume was convicted Thursday of felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor counts of assault and shoplifting.

A jury, however, acquitted 41-year-old Gregory Phillip Schwartz of assault with intent to commit rape.

Schwartz faces three years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 20.

Deputy District Attorney Mary-Ellen Barrett told jurors that the victim -- identified only as Susan in court -- went into the Big Lots store in Clairemont the afternoon of Feb. 28 and entered the women's restroom while talking on her cell phone.

Once in a stall, Susan noticed a man's bare feet in the stall next to her, Barrett said.

The prosecutor said Schwartz crawled until a partition and grabbed the victim by the neck. When she screamed, he put his hand over her mouth and said "Shhh," according to Barrett.

The victim told authorities that her attacker put his hands in his waist, and fearing he was about to unbutton his pants, she fought him and ran out of the restroom.

Store surveillance video shows Schwartz emerge from the women's restroom wearing the Barbie costume and go into the men's restroom. Minutes later, the defendant emerges, wearing pants and a Padres jacket, and exits the store.

Defense attorney Brianne Murphy told the jury that Schwartz had been up for hours, 'acting weird," drinking and using methamphetamine, prior to the encounter.

Schwartz testified that he liked to dress up in women's clothing when he was high. He said he didn't try to rape the victim.

A doctor testified about a transvestic fetish that gives some people sexual gratification when they dress up in clothing more appropriate for the opposite sex when they're high on drugs.

Schwartz was arrested in the Clairemont area two days later after the attack. Police said at the time of his arrest that Schwartz was on probation for two misdemeanor convictions, including one for drugs.

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